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Working With Content Frameworks: How to Build Epic Content Fast

Working With Content Frameworks: How to Build Epic Content Fast

As he sat in the chair, sweating and shaking profusely, John had two choices: to either pass the test or get shot by his psycho dad…

John was a dull student, everyone knew that. Calling him an “F student” was an overstatement. And on this hot afternoon, as he sat in the exam room, John was faced with being expelled from school for the second time in two years.

His only saving grace was the essay test he had to write and pass. But the thing is, John didn’t know anything about writing good essays. And every time the thought of failing crossed his mind, he remembered his father’s shot gun at home.

His dad shot his elder brother, William, in the leg because he was suspended for two weeks for missing tests. Now, John faced the same fate. In fact, he could already feel his left leg throbbing from gunshot wounds. Ouch!

For John, staying in school and staying alive was his challenge—he just had to make it work. For you, however, there are bills to pay, a family to feed, a life to live and a business to run, but for some reason you’re not seeing any traction. The only thing that’s standing in your way is the ability to create just one epic blog post that would bring in all the sales you want. But the thing is, creating epic content isn’t one of your strong points, or so you think.

Anyone can create epic content, but for some it could take five to six hours just to write a 1,000 word blog post. And with the challenges in your life and business, you don’t have that luxury of time. So, what do you do?

Fill In the Gaps Using Content Frameworks

John was probably taught how to create good essays using frameworks, but I guess he didn’t pay attention during that class. So, this is your class and I’m you tutor…let’s get going.

Why should you use content frameworks? Because it works, period!

Actually, creating content that people want, in a way that they would appreciate it and see the value within, isn’t that simple. In any place you find yourself, there are rules governing your existence there. And as long as you abide by those rules, you’re safe.

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The same goes for the internet. In order to build an effective content marketing strategy for your business, there are rules that govern creating content for the internet. Some people know these rules and use them to their advantage to get more traffic, engagement, or sales. Others ignore these rules because they feel they are not important. You’re not one of them, are you?

A content framework gives you a “skeletal” structure that your content should follow if you really want to get results. And the good thing is that this structure makes creating content pretty fast because all you do is fill in the gaps.

Content frameworks are also flexible, meaning you can restructure them to suit your business and your kind of audience.

How to Use Content Frameworks

Now this is the part that John would have wished he knew.

Back in high school, you were taught that articles have to follow a basic outline:

Title of the article ———– Introduction ———– Body ———– Conclusion

Well, the good thing is that it still follows the same outline. Only it looks somewhat like this:

content frameworks infographic

    It looks simple, right? Let’s break it up:

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    1. The Title or Headline

    Your headline should be able to make the reader decide whether to read your content or just pass by. It should start selling to your reader what’s in your content even before they start reading the introduction.

    Now the thing is you may not get the headline right every time. I also mess it up sometimes. But with practice, you’ll get the hang of it and it’ll get easier.

    If there’s nothing else online that has formulas to work with, headlines do. So, I really won’t go into that here. Here are a few great resources that will help you create headlines that rock:

    How to Write Magnetic Headlines by Brian Clark

    101 Headline Formulas by Peter Sandeen

    52 Headline Hacks by Jon Morrow

    2. The Introduction

    The introduction is the next step in drawing in your reader. If you got it right in your headline and your introduction is crap, then that content has failed. Your content will only bring results if the reader gets to the end of it and follows the instructions in your call to action.

    So, what goes into the introduction to make it work?

    Nothing much: Just a simple, compelling story that lights up your reader’s brain and keeps them glued to their screens. But like everything else, stories have structures.

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    As you have seen in the diagram, you start your introduction with a hook.

    What’s a hook? This is simply a statement in your story or about your article that is compelling enough to make the reader move to the next sentence. That’s the only purpose. Get this right and you’ll see your “Average time on site” in your analytics increase by an extra few seconds.

    After the hook comes the real story from the beginning. It is important to note that your story has guidelines as well:

    1. It must not be disconnected from the hook.

    2. It should state the problem that your reader is facing. And then focus on that problem.

    3. It should have a main character, which could be your reader or a fictional character with a name.

    4. Give specific details in your story. Saying, “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,” wouldn’t have the same effect as saying, “Humpty Dumpty fell off a six-foot fence and lost his left leg.”

    After the story comes the “conclusion to the introduction.” This is where you give your reader hope that his or her problem can be solved. You gradually hint at the solution, without explicitly stating it. Just keep them hanging in there.

    3. The Body

    The real value of your content is in the body. The information that could turn the life of your reader around should be found in the body. For example, what you’re reading now is in the body of this post.

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    So what goes into the body of your content to make it work?

    Simple: A subheadline and a whole lot of value!

    The subheadline is simply a continuation of what you finished off with in your introduction. In a few words it briefly explains what you’re about to teach your audience. The body of this article started with, “Fill in the gaps using content frameworks.” For me, I particularly use it to answer a question I ask at the end of the introduction.

    After the subheadline comes a brief introduction to what you’re about to teach the reader and then you go to the main points. Depending on the kind of article you’re writing, you could separate your main points using bullets (if it’s a list article), or break them up as subheadlines as well. In this post, I combined the two methods.

    4. The Conclusion

    Your conclusion must do two things: Assure the reader that he or she has the solution and help him or her to take action.

    So what goes into the conclusion?

    Three things: A summary of the content, what the reader should expect when he or she takes action, and then your call to action (what the reader should do next to take action). If you started your content with a story, you should also end it here. What does this mean? It means you’re about to find out whether John got shot by his dad or not!

    It’s important to note that every part of your content must communicate value to the reader and must be connected. By making your introductory story flow into the body and also into the conclusion, you lead the reader on a journey that would finally end on your site. That’s some extra traffic juice. And the good thing is that you can make this a consistent habit by always using content frameworks to create your content. It’ll not only add more value to your audience, but also to your pocket and lifestyle.

    Too bad John didn’t know about frameworks and how to use them to create good essays. But the good thing is that he didn’t get shot by his father. That was a huge relief…for a moment. The bad thing is his dad used a sledge hammer instead!

    But unlike John, you know how to use content frameworks. So use it to create epic content that cuts down your writing time to one hour or less.

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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